Windows Phone News

Skype responds to questions raised about security, denies ulterior motives

A few days ago, questions were raised over Skype's security in that Microsoft is reconfiguring the Skype network to allow Law Enforcement Agencies can have access to intercept calls. Mark Gillett, Skype's Chief Development and Operations Officer, responded to these concerns today.

With regards to the claims Skype has made changes in its architecture to provide Law Enforcement Agencies have greater access to Skype communications, Gillett says that this is false:

"The move was made in order to improve the Skype experience, primarily to improve the reliability of the platform and to increase the speed with which we can react to problems. The move also provides us with the ability to quickly introduce cool new features that allow for a fuller, richer communications experience in the future."


More Windows Phone 8 dev features revealed - background location, video codecs and more

Although the day is winding down, we’re still going through the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK from early this morning. We’re finding some smaller nuggets which aren’t ‘wow’ worthy in of themselves but they are certainly worth a mention, especially since they do add some significant new features to the Windows Phone experience.

We must stress—these are still not the new ‘consumer’ features for Windows Phone 8 which Microsoft has yet to reveal. These are simply more tools for developers to give them more options and features for their apps. These APIs take a long time to write and document which is why SDKs take time to build before going public.

So what are some of these new options for devs?

  • Background location-tracking for apps
  • More refined search for apps in the Marketplace
  • Custom contact store with cloud sync
  • Media library access for devs
  • Networking enhancements
  • Right to Left (RTL) language support
  • Media codec support and stats

Head past the break for some more details including snippets from the SDK itself…


Nokia’s stock rebounds with 10% jump - sign of a small rebound?

In what has to be a slight sigh of relief for investors, Nokia stock (NOK) has passed the $2 mark today closing at $2.02 a share or a 9.78% jump since opening.

That’s up from its low just a week ago of $1.63 and could indicate renewed faith in the struggling smartphone company. From the look of it, most analysts and perhaps now investors think the worst is now behind Nokia. Having hit bottom, the company can only go up (or die trying).

That’s not to say all is healthy. Investors, analysts and even Nokia themselves are still predicting next quarters earnings to continue to be weak. A return to profitability is still at least a few months away, assuming the company has a hit with Windows Phone 8 and carrier deals for their devices.

In related news, the cuts at the company continue and friend of the site and class act Keith Nowak, who handled Nokia’s PR in the US, has unfortunately been let go today. Our best wishes to him in the future. You can read about Keith’s experience with Nokia on his personal blog—it’s a great read.


Windows Phone Central visits Microsoft headquarters

We're in Washington this week for Casual Connect Seattle, one of the country's largest game developer-centric conferences. As you might know, Redmond is only a stone's throw away from Seattle. As such, we threw our own stones over to Microsoft headquarters (also known as the Microsoft campus) for a little visit. The campus consists of over 40 buildings spread across 300 acres - a lot to take in! In the interest of time, we focused on Studio C (home of the Windows Phone game marketing team) and the Visitor Center. Lots of pictures follow the break!


Nokia's Network Setup returns for the US and is back on the Marketplace

Nokia's Network Setup, the app that helps Lumia Windows Phone owners to configure networks when using an unlocked device, has been missing from the US Marketplace for a number of months now. With little word from Nokia, we could only assume that there were issues that were required to be ironed out.

We were all originally waiting for just one week until the manufacturer re-submitted the app, but alas it was a no show. 


Microsoft Surface Tablets priced over $1000? Not so fast...

We updated yesterday's story on the Microsoft Surface Tablet price possibly costing more than $1,000 but wanted to make sure the update got out. For those who didn't catch the original story, Swedish website Webhallen.com listed the Microsoft Surface tablet at a price of 6990 krone (about $1,160 US) with Fourth Quarter 2012 availability.

This took us (and everyone else) by surprise because earlier speculation had pricing in the $399-599 range.


New Map Features in Windows Phone 8

The Windows 8 SDK is pointing to some tantalising improvements to the maps functionality. Specifically maps will now support overlaying Landmarks, in this example, a 3d transparent building and pedestrian features. The pedestrian feature show in the example seems to be that of stairs.


Auto Launching Apps now possible using file associations for Windows Phone 8

Applications in Windows Phone 8 will, according to the SDK, have the ability to launch if associated with that file type, it also suggests you’ll be able to make a custom file type icon so it looks nice and neat. That’s good news, there are plenty of file types on WP7 devices that are simply not recognised so having the ability to extend the platform by creating the app to launch it will be a welcome addition. 

Of course, that’s as long as WP8 hasn’t already reserved the file types to open with the build in apps. Although a quick scan over the reserved file types suggests there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to file type compatibility.


Xbox 360 LIVE Beta enrollment now open for 2012 Fall update

Microsoft has announced open enrollment for their 2012 (fall) Xbox LIVE update for the Xbox 360 console.

The new features for this update we revealed at E3 back in June are the ones coming for this update so getting a sneak peek is always a blast. Some of those new features for this preview include:

  • Internet Explorer for Xbox
  • Personalized dashboard recommendations
  • Enhanced category search and discovery features

Windows Phone 8 to feature developer access to Voice Command features

In what should be a very exciting addition for developers, Windows Phone 8 will finally give access to Voice Command (aka TellMe).

According to the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK, developers can add functions to their app that uses the Voice Command feature, enabling customers to launch the app with a sub-query which will take them to a specific area of the app:

"Users can use voice commands to both launch your app and execute an action. For example, a user using the Contoso Widgets app could press the Start button and say "Contoso Widgets, show best sellers" to both launch the Contoso Widgets app and navigate to a 'best sellers' page, or some other action that the developer specifies."

(An example of this would be Jay Bennett adding a feature to our WPCentral app whereby you hold the Start button to access Voice Command (TellMe) and say “WPCentral, go to reviews”).


Windows Phone 8 to feature expanded Bluetooth functionality, access to stack and transfer

One area that Windows Phone has been lacking so far is the ability to do anything with Bluetooth besides connect to hands-free headsets or speakers. Windows Phone 8 looks to finally expand Bluetooth functionality with the leaked SDK detailing some new features available to developers.

For instance, peer-to-peer file sharing is now allowed for apps that want to “talk” to each other. As an example, we could add an ability for the WPCentral app to share links or photos to another phone. Presumably this feature could be used for all sorts of features like in games by unlocking a feature when you pair up with another phone i.e. a social aspect...


Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview: Application platform overview and Windows 8 APIs

The Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview has been leaked on the Internet today before being released in the coming weeks. What's included in the upcoming version? 

App Development

Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview supports native C++ development and is able to support a significant subset of the Windows 8 SDK, allowing developers to share a significant amount of code between apps on Windows Phone and Window 8. The lack of native development support in Windows Phone 7.x has proven to be an issue with developers in the past, which has now been recognised by Microsoft.

The SDK Preview reduces the need to port and maintain components such as compute engines, graphic libraries, and API sets. Direct3D is also making its way to Windows Phone, which will enable developers to create and release games built using DirectX and share code base between PC titles (D2D, DWrite and WIC aren't supported). The supported vertex shader model version is 2.0, as is the pixel shader.


Windows Phone 8 - Photo Apps now able to auto upload in background

Windows Phone 8 will now include the ability to create apps that can auto upload  in the background using a background agent, according to the leaked SDK. The background unloading looks to be targeted at apps for uploading photos. The task like unlike other will not expire. The potential for camera apps on WP8 looks to have gotten rosy indeed. I'm thinking flickr and photobucket could do with this..


Windows Phone 8 allows Lock-screen notifications and wallpaper for 3rd party apps

We’ve hinted at this before and the leak of the Windows Phone 8 SDK is validating our claim that “Apollo” will allow richer notification support for 3rd party developers.

Developers will now be able to have their app send notifications to the Lock Screen with the content reflecting the app’s Live Tile:

“In Windows Phone, the lock screen contained a handful of notifications such as the number of new Outlook emails and text messages. In Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview, end users can choose to customize this area with any third party apps they choose. As a developer, you can enable your app to be used in this feature. “

An app can provide content for the following four items on the lock screen:

  • The background image. This image is unrelated to lock screen notifications, and is documented at Lock screen background for Windows Phone.
  • An app icon
  • An app count
  • App text

Windows Phone 8 bringing Lenses feature to expand camera functionality

As we parse our way through the new Windows Phone 8 SDK which was leaked this morning, we’re starting to get an idea of some of the new features.

One of those is Camera Lenses, a method by which developers can add a “mini app” of sorts to within in the camera function. This will allow devs to have much more creative control over the Windows Phone camera app, allowing the creation of unique augmented reality apps and filters to really add a customized experience.

Head past the break to read the excerpts from the SDK…


Windows Phone 8 SDK preview release leaks online [Updated]

Although we’re expecting Microsoft to release the Windows Phone 8 SDK within the coming weeks, this morning the full SDK has managed to leak online via the site WPXAP.

The full SDK is available via two methods—the official Microsoft server with a password or a third party file site (which requires a 3rd party app to install first). We have downloaded the SDK and validated that it is indeed the full package.

Files include the SDK, which can only run on Windows 8 64-bit preview edition meaning many folks won’t be able to run this right now. In fact, we’ve heard that the official SDK will be a Windows 8-only release (both 32 and 64 bit).

The files included are

  • Network Monitoring for Windows Phone Applications V1.pdf    
  • Optimizing Windows Phone Applications for Efficient Battery Consumption V1.pdf          
  • RPALSDK_LKG25.zip
  • Simulation Dashboard for Windows Phone Applications V1.pdf
  • Windows Phone 8 Developer Docs.chm
  • Windows Phone Apollo Release Notes.htm        
  • wpexpress.zip

The Developer docs (CHM) containing all the documentation with the new dev options--screenshots are posted below. We’ll get more up as soon as we can go through the files.

Developing...

Source: WPXAP; Thanks, talan1314, for the tip. More shots after the break...


Seton Hall University handing out Lumia 900s and Samsung Windows 8 tablets to freshmen

Freshmen at Seton Hall University are receiving free Lumia 900s and Windows 8 tablets, thanks to collaboration between Nokia, AT&T, Microsoft and the University itself. The entire class of 2016 will receive the Samsung tablet and Lumia 900 to support the University's mission of providing state of the art technology tools to enhance the student's college experience.

Last month we reported on the announcement and in the above video you can see the rollout commence. Stephen Landry, Chief Information Officer at Seton Hall, explains that the university had a large pileup of Android tablets and iPads, which proved to be unproductive for students. He notes that they require the functionality of Microsoft Office - something both Windows 8 and Windows Phone supports out the box.

Students with the new Windows devices will be able to make use of a SHUmobile app, which provides access to campus news feeds, directories, maps and other University resources.

Source: YouTube; thanks, Daniel, for the tip!


Summer Of Metro Continues – SkyDrive & Web Messenger get the new look

The metrification of Microsoft’s web properties continues. Yesterday we reported that the Accounts page update was rolling out. This time Liveside are reporting a leak of the new, flatter SkyDrive. Word is, that we will see these changes appear around August time. Amongst the changes deduced from the screenshots looks like we can expect to see:-

  • Thumbnails of Office document types
  • Ability to select files from the thumbnail view
  • Improved access to storage management, tagging and changing language type
  • Groups accessible from the left hand column

Good Technology Report – Windows Phone Enterprise Activations

Good Technology has released their annual report detailing the spread of device activations for Q2. Good are well known for being at the forefront of providing technology for IT departments to facilitate users who wish to use their own devices for work, commonly referred to as BYOD, or to allow departments to use technology that's not quite as secure or manageable out of the box. The premise is simple; the software provides a heavily encrypted shell to keep corporate email private and secure. Windows Phone is making its presence known in the workplace according to this report.

The Good Windows Phone client was only debuted in April 2012 but already it’s showing as accounting for 1.2% of the overall activations. Bear in mind that the lion’s share of activations are currently going to the non-enterprise friendly, but current executive fondle-thing-business toy, the IPad. The iPad is accounting for a whopping 94.5 of all activations.


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